Throughout American history, capitalism has been the driving force in the economy. However, many experts suggest that the economy is transforming into one increasingly focused on sharing and collaboration. The emergence of a sharing economy is evident–and ridesharing, home sharing, and office sharing are three of the most widely used collaboration services between consumers.
Ridesharing has become very popular through Uber, a service that allows civilians to become “taxi” drivers for people nearby that need a lift. Drivers are able to determine whether or not they want to answer the call to pick up a customer, and if not, the customer is transferred to another driver based on availability and proximity. Drivers can choose the hours they are available or unavailable to pick up and drop off passengers. Additionally, drivers and passengers agree upon a rate–which can be dynamically adjusted based on circumstances, including weather conditions or traffic patterns. Uber drivers are also exempt from the extra fees associated with a traditional taxi license, so they can undercut the taxi market to boost their own bottom line. This relationship between ordinary civilians allows drivers another income and consumers a method of transportation that is often quicker than buses, subways, or even traditional taxis.
People are also beginning to share their homes or living spaces through Airbnb, an online community where people can search and book living accommodations in over 34,000 cities spanning over 190 countries. This is incredibly useful for people looking for a place to stay–whether for a quick vacation or even for an extended stay if they are relocating somewhere new and unfamiliar. Through Airbnb, owners of the living spaces are able to monetize their spaces that would otherwise be vacant. This allows both the owner and the tenant to achieve their goals–profit from unused space, and finding living accommodations that are typically more affordable than a hotel room.
Another community sharing initiative is happening in the workplace. In many cities, there are companies dedicated to providing co-working spaces–places where employees of different companies or organizations work within a common space. Many startups find that co-working spaces help accelerate their growth and business potential because they are able to network with professionals from a variety of industries. In addition, for people that work from home, co-working spaces typically give them access to conference rooms for hosting clients or larger meetings.
Rideshares, home shares, and co-working spaces are just three of the many areas in which people are collaborating and in turn expanding their networks to build meaningful relationships for both personal and professional purposes. On the surface, the sharing economy seems to be thriving with many parties benefitting. If the early results are any indication, the sharing economy will be a driving force for years to come.